Below you can find a complete list of Irish animals. We currently track 145 animals in Ireland and are adding more every day!
Toward the end of the last Ice Age, some 2.6 million years ago, rising sea levels cut Ireland off from the European mainland. This led to the evolution of some uniquely adapted animals on the Emerald Isle. Twenty-six terrestrial mammals are native to Ireland, including the Irish hare, the Irish stoat, the Irish grey partridge, and ten species of bats. Though well over 450 unique bird species call Ireland home for at least part of the year, all but two of these species are migratory.
Far more animal species flourished in Ireland throughout the Ice Age, including the wooly mammoth, the wild horse, the Irish elk (also called giant deer), and a brown bear species thought by biologists to be an ancestor to today’s polar bear. It’s likely that predatory human hunting contributed to these animals’ extinction.
The Official National Animal of Ireland
There’s some controversy over Ireland’s national animal. Many people think it should be the Irish elk. The Irish elk, though, has one huge problem with optics: It’s extinct.
The next best choice is the Irish hare, which is the only lagomorph native to Ireland. Irish hares are significantly larger than rabbits, weighing as much as 8 pounds. They’re famous for the predatory boxing behavior they display during early spring as part of their mating rituals. It’s likely that the famous March hare in “Alice in Wonderland” was intended to be an Irish hare.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Ireland
While some Irish fauna like the red fox, the badger, the otter, and the pygmy shrew is fairly evenly distributed throughout the island, others like the Irish hare, the red deer, and the pine marten are more likely to be found in one of Ireland’s six national parks and numerous nature preserves:
- Wicklow Mountains: Protected fauna in the Wicklow Mountains National Park include otters, bats, and endangered bird species such as the whooper swan and the peregrine falcon.
- The Burren: If you want to glimpse the pine marten in its native habitat, the place to go is Burren National Park in County Clare.
- Killarney: In 1981, County Kerry’s Killarney National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The yew and oak woodlands comprising this park are some of the only forests remaining on the island and home to Ireland’s only indigenous herd of red deer.
- Glenveagh: Golden eagles were thought to be extinct in Ireland for many years. Then a breeding pair was sighted, and in 2000, this endemic bird species was reintroduced in Glenveagh National Park where it survived and thrived. Glenveagh also contains Ireland’s largest herd of red deer.
- Connemara: Connemara is most famous for its wild Connemara ponies. According to popular folklore, these mammals originally descended from ponies brought over by the Vikings during the Dark Ages. Connemara also hosts a variety of birds, including chaffinches, kestrel, and snipe, during the warmer months.
- Ballycroy: Ballycroy National Park is a birdwatcher’s delight, hosting dippers, sandpipers, whooper swans, and rare predatory birds such as merlin and peregrine falcons.
The Most Dangerous Animals In Ireland Today
Contemporary Ireland has few dangerous animals. Until the beginning of the 18th century, however, grey wolves were common throughout much of Ireland. According to popular folklore, Cormac Ulfada, the most famous of the ancient High Kings of Ireland, was raised by grey wolves and was fluent in their speech.
Wolves and humans maintained an uneasy truce until the decade after Oliver Cromwell conquered Ireland when an enormous amount of anti-wolf legislation was passed. Historical facts show that professional wolf hunters swarmed into Ireland from all parts of Europe, and today, wolves are extinct on the Emerald Isle. The last wild wolf in Ireland is reported to have been killed in 1786.
Endangered Animals In Ireland
Endangered mammals in Ireland include the otter, the pine martin, and the red squirrel. That doesn’t cover the facts on all native fauna threatened by extinction, though. Unique fish like the gillaroo, pollan, and goureen are also in danger of becoming extinct.
Irish Animals List
- Barn Owl
- Black Widow Spider
- Camel Cricket
- Common Buzzard
- Common Frog
- Common Loon
- Common Raven
- Common Toad
- Crab Spider
- Edible Frog
- Fallow deer
- Flying Squirrel
- Glass Lizard
- Glen Of Imaal Terrier
- Glow Worm
- Golden Oriole
- Highland Cattle
- Honey Bee
- Huntsman Spider
- Irish Setter
- Irish Terrier
- Irish WolfHound
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Long-Eared Owl
- Marsh Frog
- No See Ums
- Peregrine Falcon
- Pike Fish
- Pond Skater
- Pool Frog
- Purple Emperor Butterfly
- Puss Moth
- Raccoon Dog
- River Turtle
- Sand Lizard
- Skink Lizard
- Slow Worm
- Snowy Owl
- Spadefoot Toad
- Stag Beetle
- Stick Insect
- Tiger Moth
- Tree Frog
- Water Buffalo
- Water Vole
- Wheaten Terrier
- Wolf Spider
Animals in Ireland FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kinds of animals live in Ireland?
Many unique types of wildlife live and have lived in Ireland. They include the pine marten, the Irish elk, the Irish hare, the red deer, and ten resident bat species.
What dangerous animals live in Ireland?
The predatory grey wolves that were endemic to Ireland became extinct approximately 250 years ago. If you really want the facts, the most dangerous animals living in Ireland today are probably humans.
Does Ireland have bears?
Ireland had brown bears as recently as the last Ice Age. They are extinct now.
Does Ireland have snakes now?
Whether or not you believe the popular folklore tale that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, it’s quite true that Ireland has no native snakes. It does have a native reptile species called Zootoca vivipara that looks like a small snake. The endemic Zootoca vivipara is actually a species of legless lizard.
What animals are native to Ireland?
The Irish hare, the Connemara pony, the red fox, the pygmy shrew, and the red deer are among the unique fauna that is native to Ireland.
What is the rarest animal in Ireland?
At one time, the pine marten was widely distributed throughout all of Ireland. Today, the weasel-like animal can only be found in a few places near the Emerald Isle’s western coast and in its midlands. Biologists estimate that Ireland’s pine marten population is down to only 2,700 individuals.